Posted by: snhelton | October 1, 2008

What does it Mean to be Missional?

The simplest way to begin is to begin. So here I go. The word “missional” has come into vogue in an attempt to speak meaningfully about the church’s place in North American culture. This has two basic challenges. First, the church has been encrusted, if not lost, in Christendom. And, second, the church is deeply North American in its instincts and values. No doubt we will have a chance to unpack these in other posts.

So what do we mean by being “missional”? My working definition begins with God. God has always been on a mission. That mission involved calling a distinct people, to be different from the culture around them, to live God’s life in the world and thus participate in his mission in calling others into the mission of God. One last item I find necessary to say is that God calls people not for their sake alone but for the sake of the world. To live God’s life is to be spent for the good of others.

What would you add?



  1. “Be the ball.” (Bill Murray)

  2. In a sermon I preached once from Ephesians 3.1-11 titled “The Missional Church”, I defined the church as “the future community which exists in the present as the representation of God’s finished work of redemption.”

    My intent was to grasp both the vision and purpose of the church which when held together is the mission of the church. Thus I believe to be a missional church means to live as a community that bears witness to God’s finished work of redemption that will be known in its fullness at the second-coming of Jesus. We live this calling in both word and deed. If this is done then when the world wants to know what God’s redemption looks like, the world would look at the church and be able to see that redemption at hand.

    Somone might content that the church is still a bunch of people who are yet fully sanctified (in the scheme of historical time). Though true, the church should look like a place where such sanctification is in progress (again, in the scheme of historical time) and thus God’s redemptive work is witnessed by the world. At the risk of being to broad in my generalization, the body of Christ in North America is increasingly looking less and less like a community where God’s redemptive work is at hand — hence, the need to the recovery of being a ‘missional church’.

    Grace and peace,


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